Improving the quality of pharmacotherapy in elderly primary care patients through medication reviews: a randomised controlled study

Drugs Aging. 2013 Apr;30(4):235-46. doi: 10.1007/s40266-013-0057-0.


Background: Polypharmacy in the Swedish elderly population is currently a prioritised area of research with a focus on reducing the use of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs). Multi-professional interventions have previously been tested for their ability to improve drug therapy in frail elderly patients.

Objective: This study aimed to assess a structured model for pharmacist-led medication reviews in primary health care in southern Sweden and to measure its effects on numbers of patients with PIMs (using the definition of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare) using ≥10 drugs and using ≥3 psychotropics.

Methods: This study was a randomised controlled clinical trial performed in a group of patients aged ≥75 years and living in nursing homes or the community and receiving municipal health care. Medication reviews were performed by trained clinical pharmacists based on nurse-initiated symptom assessments with team-based or distance feedback to the physician. Data were collected from the patients' electronic medication lists and medical records at baseline and 2 months after the medication review.

Results: A total of 369 patients were included: 182 in the intervention group and 187 in the control group. One-third of the patients in both groups had at least one PIM at baseline. Two months after the medication reviews, the number of intervention group patients with at least one PIM and the number of intervention group patients using ten or more drugs had decreased (p = 0.007 and p = 0.001, respectively), while there were no statistically significant changes in the control patients. No changes were seen in the number of patients using three or more psychotropic drugs, although the dosages of these drugs tended to decrease. Drug-related problems (DRPs) were identified in 93 % of the 182 patients in the intervention group. In total, there were 431 DRPs in the intervention group (a mean of 2.5 DRPs per patient, range 0-9, SD 1.5 at 95 % CI) and 16 % of the DRPs were related to PIMs.

Conclusions: Medication reviews involving pharmacists in primary health care appear to be a feasible method to reduce the number of patients with PIMs, thus improving the quality of pharmacotherapy in elderly patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Services / standards*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Pharmacists
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Control